Marshall County High School shooting

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Marshall County High School shooting
Part of mass shootings in the United States
Location of Marshall County High School is located in the United States
Location of Marshall County High School
Location of Marshall County High School
Location of Marshall County High School (the United States)
Location of Marshall County High School is located in Kentucky
Location of Marshall County High School
Location of Marshall County High School
Location of Marshall County High School (Kentucky)
LocationDraffenville, Kentucky, U.S.
Coordinates36°54′43″N 88°19′55″W / 36.912°N 88.332°W / 36.912; -88.332Coordinates: 36°54′43″N 88°19′55″W / 36.912°N 88.332°W / 36.912; -88.332
DateJanuary 23, 2018
7:57 AM[1] (CST)
Attack type
School shooting, mass shooting, double-murder, attempted mass murder
WeaponsRuger Mk II .22 Long Rifle semi-automatic pistol[2]
Injured18 (14 by gunfire)[3]
PerpetratorGabriel Ross Parker
VerdictPleaded guilty
SentenceTwo life sentences with the possibility of parole after 20 years, plus 70 years in prison
LitigationLawsuit filed against the perpetrator's parents by families of the victims[4]

The Marshall County High School shooting occurred at Marshall County High School near Benton, Kentucky,[a] on January 23, 2018. The gunman, 15-year-old student Gabe Parker, opened fire in an open area at the school, murdering two students and injuring 14 others.

On June 12, 2020, Parker was given two life sentences with the possibility of parole after 20 years.


At 7:57 AM, as students were gathering in the commons, prior to the start of classes, 15-year-old student Gabriel Ross Parker, opened fire with a Ruger handgun, murdering two 15-year-olds at the scene.

Parker reportedly went to the school's band room to check with his friends before the shooting, to make sure they were not in the area before returning to the commons area and beginning his attack.[6] Witnesses stated that the gunman's eyes were "lifeless" and that he said nothing while he fired at students.[7]

After the shooting, Parker discarded the weapon and ran to the weight room and hid with other students. Students, unaware he was the shooter, motioned for him to join them in hiding.[6] Another student who was hiding in the location recognized Parker as the shooter and alerted a teacher in the room about the shooter's identity, the teacher then called law enforcement.[8]

A large number of students fled the schools campus to seek safety with local business owners attempting to aid the students.[9] Students running from the incident heard screams of "Get down!" but many fled, or attempted to evacuate the wounded from the school and drive them to the hospital. This created chaos as many dropped what they were carrying such as phones and bags and jumped fences or ran into the woods.[10] Many students also ran to the school's technical building on campus.

Eighteen other people were injured, by bullets and the chaos afterwards with three people critically injured.[3] Parker was taken into custody by the Marshall County Sheriff at 8:06 AM.[11]

The mother of the shooter reportedly received a phone call from her son that there had been a shooting and that he was scared. The revelation that her son was the perpetrator of the shooting caused her to be physically ill.[7]


Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both 15 years old, were killed. Holt died at the scene after reportedly calling her mother but "couldn't say anything".[12] Cope died later at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center due to a non-survivable gunshot wound.[13] Cope's parents reached the school before he died and bypassed first responders to be by his side.[14]

Eighteen other students were injured, four by trying to escape,[15] injuries sustained ranged from head wounds, to injuries to arms, the chest and abdomen[9] from either the bullets or the chaos. Authorities reported that the wounded were five females and thirteen male students between the ages of 14 to 18 years old.[16] Some of the victims were pulled from the scene, by students and faculty and transported to the hospital for medical treatment.[10]

On January 27, one of the wounded was discharged from Vanderbilt Medical Center and one remained in stable condition.[17]


Gabe Parker
Gabriel Ross Parker

(2002-03-03) March 3, 2002 (age 20)
Criminal statusIncarcerated
Imprisoned atRoederer Correctional Complex, LaGrange[18]

The perpetrator was a 15-year-old sophomore at the school.[19] The Marshall County Sheriff from the Marshall County Sheriff's Department located the boy, identified as Gabriel Ross Parker,[20] and arrested him after the shooting. After his arrest a bag that Parker had on his person was searched by police, and held a copy of the Communist Manifesto and a large Winchester sheath knife. At his home he had a copy of Mein Kampf. Officers also seized Parker's phone.[21]


Once arrested Parker was Mirandized and interviewed for almost two hours before Parker requested a lawyer. In the interview Parker reportedly told the investigating officers he planned the night before to take his step-father's pistol and the pros and cons of carrying out the act.[6] School surveillance video documented the incident, and shows the progression of the incident.[16]

Police did not immediately offer a motive.[22] According to the testimony of Marshall County Sheriff's Captain Matt Hilbrecht, during the interrogation, Parker expressed that "he was an atheist and that his life had no purpose and other people’s lives also had no purpose." Gabe Parker saw Marshall County school shooting as an experiment, officer says Officers also stated that Parker indicated the shooting was an "experiment" to see how students and society would respond.[6]

Legal proceedings[edit]

Parker was arraigned in Marshall County Circuit Court on February 16, 2018.[1] He has been charged with two counts of murder and fourteen counts of first-degree assault.[23] The Kentucky Court of Appeals ordered the release of previously sealed records of Parker by the Marshall County Circuit Court after his 16th birthday as he is being tried as an adult.[21] In March 2018, Parker and his attorney were in court to attempt to have the case moved back to Juvenile Court, which was denied and he is to be continued to be tried as an adult.[24]

During a pre-trial hearing in August 2018 it was reported that there was evidence from over 100 cell phones that would be potentially used in the trial against Parker.[25] At this trial it was stated that if the prosecutors of the case received an expert opinion that Parker was suffering from a mental defect or disease, potential charges of wanton endangerment would be levied against Parker's stepfather.[26] In May 2019, the judge ruled that his trial will be moved to Christian county citing heavy publicity and sensational allegations and the trial was scheduled for June 2020.[27] Due to his age he is not eligible for either the death penalty or life without parole and according to Kentucky law must be eligible for parole after serving 25 years.[28][29] In April 2020, Parker pled guilty to murder and Parker's mother apologized to Holt's and Cope's families for her sons actions after. On June 12, he was sentenced to two life terms plus 70 years and will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years. During his sentencing, Holt's and Cope's families each delivered victim impact statements against Parker.[30][31][32][33][34][35]


A benefit concert at the Kentucky Opry in Benton was organized to raise donations for the families of shooting victims, with another concert organized three weeks after the first. The town also employed blue and orange ribbons, and the phrase "Marshall Strong".[23] In June 2018, students who had been wounded were given checks from donation campaigns.[36] Federal grants were announced in August 2018 by Governor Matt Bevin to support victims during the shooters trial, as well as for mental health professionals and a recovery plan coordinator at the high school.[37]

Some students have become involved with the March for Our Lives campaign and gun control rallies, which has caused them to be at odds with a majority of the area, which saw commentators in local news medias claiming the students were too young to know anything.[38] Survivors of the Heath High School Shooting, the Columbine High School Shooting, and the University of California at Santa Barbara Shooting reached out to survivors to encourage healing and discussion about the incident.[39]

The entire student body was awarded the 911 Hero Award in September 2018, in order to recognize the students' actions during the shooting.[8]

School response[edit]

Less than a week after the incident the school implemented new safety methods to protect the students. Students that arrived late would have to check in with the front office, and staff members began to screen students with metal detector wands before allowing them to enter.[38] The school has also instated a second officer on full-time at the location, with grant proposals for more school resource officers.[23] In June 2018 it was reported that the Marshall County School District had banned students carrying backpacks at the high school, and two middle schools to protect the students.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The school's mailing address is in Benton, but it is physically located in Draffenville, an unincorporated community several miles north of the Benton city limits.[5]


  1. ^ a b "UPDATE: 15-Year-Old Victims ID'd In Marshall Co. School Shooting". Lex18. NBC News. January 23, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  2. ^ "Student pleads guilty to murder in Marshall County High School shooting that killed 2".
  3. ^ a b c Gostanian, Ali; Siemaszko, Cork (January 23, 2018). "Kentucky school shooting: 2 dead after gunfire erupts at Marshall County High School". NBC News. NBC. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  4. ^ "Families sue parents of Kentucky school shooting suspect". Associated Press.
  5. ^ "State Primary Road System: Marshall County" (PDF). Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Markgraf, Matt. "Detectives Detail "Bizarre" and "Shockingly Calm" Interview with Marshall Shooting Suspect". Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "A morning of terror: Marshall County victims recount chaos and heroism in school shooting". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Marshall County students recognized for bravery during deadly school shooting". WPSD Local 6. August 30, 2018. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Kentucky school shooting: 2 dead, 15 more shot at Marshall County High School -- live updates". Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Holly Yan; AnneClaire Stapleton; Paul P. Murphy. "Kentucky school shooting: 2 students killed, 18 injured". CNN. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  11. ^ "Police: Marshall County High School shooter confessed and led us to the gun". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  12. ^ "Teen killed in Kentucky school shooting called mother as she died". Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  13. ^ Jorge, Kaylin. "Kentucky school shooting victim dies after flown to Vanderbilt, 4 others treated". WZTV. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  14. ^ "Parents of Kentucky school shooting victim thankful for final moments with son". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  15. ^ "Kentucky High School Shooting Victims: Photos & Tributes". January 23, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  16. ^ a b Gonzales, Suzannah. "Kentucky school shooting suspect did not target victims: local..." U.S. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  17. ^ Ingersoll, Stephanie; Courier-Journal, The (January 28, 2018). "'Our grief is gut-wrenching': Hundreds say their goodbyes to slain Marshall County students". Courier Journal. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  18. ^ "Offender Information - Kentucky Department of Corrections - Offender Online Lookup System".
  19. ^ "Bailey Nicole Holt, Preston Ryan Cope Identified As Kentucky School Shooting Victims". International Business Times. January 24, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  20. ^ "Reporter rushes to Kentucky school shooting – and learns the alleged gunman is her son". The Courier-Journal. January 26, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Markgraf, Matt. "Search Warrants Reveal Details About Accused Marshall Co. High School Shooter". Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  22. ^ "What to Know About the Kentucky High School Shooting". Time. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  23. ^ a b c Gibson, Helen (June 2, 2018). "One Small Town's Response to a School Shooting". Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  24. ^ News, Heartland. "Marshall Co. Court orders school shooting suspect's case to remain in adult court". Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  25. ^ Staff, WKYT News. "Marshall Co. shooting suspect appears in court, high school receives large grant". Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  26. ^ "Marshall County shooting: Students return to class as shooting suspect enters court". The Leaf Chronicle. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  27. ^ "Kentucky school shooting trial to be in different county - NEWS 1130".
  28. ^ "4 in Kentucky seek new sentences for juvenile murder cases". The Courier-Journal. Associated Press.
  29. ^ Cox, John Woodrow (November 25, 2019). "Should teen school shooters spend the rest of their lives in prison?". Washington Post. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  30. ^, ABC 13 News. "Latest kentucky news sports business and entertainment". WKBO.
  31. ^, Washington Post. "Teenager pleads guilty to murder in kentucky school shooting". Washington Post.
  32. ^ "Kentucky School Shooter ordered to serve two life sentences". fox56.
  33. ^ "Marshall school shooter to serve 2 life sentences". The Herald Ledger.
  34. ^ "Here is the latest kentucky news from the associated press". WKYT.
  35. ^, The Washington Times. "Teen pleads guilty to 2018 Kentucky school shooting". The Washington Times.
  36. ^ "Marshall County HS shooting survivor gets check, focusing on the positives". WPSD Local 6 - Your News, Weather, & Sports Authority. June 6, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  37. ^ "Federal grant to help victims, families from Marshall County High School shooting". Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  38. ^ a b "'Almost No One Agrees With Us': For Rural Students, Gun Control Can Be a Lonely Cause". The New York Times. May 22, 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  39. ^ Sanders, Forrest. "Past school shooting survivors to send notebooks, letters of compassion to Marshall Co. High School". Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  40. ^ "Marshall County school district bans backpacks after school shooting". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 19, 2018.